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NRP: The Weather Prophets – Mayflower

Rounding back into the trenches of sorely overlooked fodder for vinyl reissue in a time when greatest hits albums are somehow finding their way back to the plants. The wanting bin of treasures that should be made available is too deep to measure and sadly the reissue marker isn’t set by how deserving an album is of new review, just how many copies are going to rush out the door. If the majors are going to comb their back stacks there still remain quite a few more deserving records than whatever post-Eagles solo records are in the queue. Case in point, before they found their way to Creation, a stable I’d lobby should be entirely back in print if at all possible, The Weather Prophets issued a debut for WEA. I’d submit Mayflower as an essential record and one that’s profoundly deserving of a new life among the racks.

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Corey Cunningham on Tom Diabo – Dark Star

Corey Cunningham is one of those artists who has popped up on RSTB so often it seems silly he’s just now finding his way to Hidden Gems. With great releases from Terry Malts and Business of Dreams packed in his catalog he’s making a mark on 2018 with the sophomore release from Smokescreens, a collaboration with Chris Rosi of Plateaus. The through line in all of Cunningham’s work has been an effervescent brand of pop that bubbles to the surface over and over again. As such, I wondered what records he’d been harboring in his sphere of influences. Corey’s picked one more hidden than most in this series, the 1988 small press LP from Tom Diabo.

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Roxanne Clifford on Shirley Collins and Davy Graham – Folk Roots, New Routes

I’m excited to say that this series now boasts two members of longtime RSTB fave Veronica Falls. Though the band has gone on to new ventures, their taut indie pop will forever be embedded in my heart. One of the band’s greatest strengths was songwriter and singer Roxanne Clifford and she’s brought that same spirit, albeit with an ear towards synth-pop strains over jangles, to her band Patience. With a clutch of great singles already in her catalog, the band has already proven indispensable. So, I was eager to see what Roxanne would pick as deserving of another listen and some time under the spotlight. She’s reached back to a folk classic, the homespun folk of Shirley Collins and Davy Grahams’s – Folk Roots, New Routes. Check out how this found its way into her collection.

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Michael Rault on Billy Nicholls – Love Songs

There have been many great surprises this year, but the latest album from Michael Rault is quite possibly among the best. Rault refashioned his sound in the guise of ‘70s pop with a soft heart, echoing the Apple records stable if they’d been mixing it up down in Memphis with Big Star and The Hot Dogs. Its easily the best power pop album to find its way to your speakers in 2018. So, naturally it seemed fitting to have Michael dive deep for a pick in the Hidden Gems series. I’m constantly intrigued at what people pick for these because some true gems get unearthed. Rault stayed true to his pop influences going for the oft overlooked ’74 sophomore album from a true psych-pop purveyor Billy Nicholls. It’s a true lost classic that’s been out of print for far too long. Check out how it came into Michael’s life.

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RSTB Best of 2018 (So Far)

Somehow or other it is now June and that means that the barometer must be checked for what albums have had the biggest impact (here, not on a worldwide stage or whatnot). Its been a hell of a slog politically, nationally and emotionally, but it has been a good year for music. Can’t quite call that a silver lining, but its a balm of sorts and that’s something. As usual the list is presented in no real order (quasi-alphabetical with a couple of last minute additions thrown in for good measure.) These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable here. If you like ’em, buy ’em. Its as simple as that. I’ll echo the admirable Liz Pelly’s sentiments in the crusade against the streaming giant to say its not enough to simply clock time through the cloud. The small labels and independents here need some love so seek them out and give a small monetary hug where applicable.

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Matt Valentine on Takehisa Kosugi – Catch Wave

I’m steadily working through the great wishlist of artists who have shaped the path of Raven for the Hidden Gems series and this week we land on another. Along with Erica Elder, Matt Valentine’s tenure in MV & EE and its various incarnations was instrumental to the aughts psych-folk wave. In his stewardship of the great Northeast label Child of Microtones he’s given a home to The Tower Recordings, Samara Lubelski, Ash & Herb and Dredd Foole among others. And just this year he’s carved out yet another classic with PG Six as Wet Tuna. So, it came to pass that I asked Matt to pick out a record that had perhaps eluded the grasp of the masses all these years. Coming on the heels of the news that Taj Mahal Travellers’ August 1974 has found its way back to LP, Valentine’s pick from the band’s Takehisa Kosugi – his 1975 album Catch Wave – seems quite fitting. See how this record found its way to his life and what impact it’s had on his own works below.

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Vive La Void’s Sanae Yamada on Midori Takada – Through The Looking Glass

When this feature first found its footing one of the initial participants was Ripley Johnson from Moon Duo / Wooden Shjips who dug deep on a sorely lost Aussie stunner from Fabulous Diamonds. A year on, and quite a few more Gems later, its great to now have both halves of the duo represented with a pick from Ripley’s partner in crime Sanae Yamada. With dozens of great Moon Duo records in her portfolio, Yamada broke out solo with her hypnotic new outing this year as Vive La Void. I was intrigued to see what Yamada’s pick would be, given her background in synth / psych / Kosmiche and as always the picks wind up being great surprises that further add to my own need to get to the record store. Sanae picked the 1983 album, Through The Looking Glass, from Japanese percussionist Midori Takada. She goes in depth on how the record came her way and how its impacted her own writing.

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Ethan Miller – Inspirations for Alligator Bride

There are a lot of great artists I’ve had on the wishlist for Hidden Gems but Ethan Miller has been hovering near the top for some time now. The psych vet’s been holding down time in a rogue’s gallery of great bands over the past few decades – Comets on Fire, Heron Oblivion, Feral Ohms, and Howlin’ Rain. The latter is back with their first album in three years and its one of their best yet. I finally snagged Ethan to run down a pick for Hidden Gems but he’d done me one better. In this special edition of the feature, the songwriter rounds up some deep cuts that inspired the direction for the upcoming Alligator Bride and he delves into their influence on his own writing. As expected there are quite a few nuggets from the ‘70s rock canon but also as many surprises in the running as well. Check out the picks and a playlist from Ethan below.

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NRP: Kathy Smith – 2

Again, using this column to shine a bit of light on an album that’s been pinched between the cracks. While there are dozens of reissues pressing down each month, it seems that for each complete knockout, there are just as many superfluous retreads of dollar bin fodder best left to their original incarnations. So Necessary Repress finds me wandering through those records that elude local capture or beg too much on the secondary market. An apt example as any would certainly be the sophomore LP from L.A. folk artist Kathy Smith. Though she’s been a collector’s gem for quite some time, I came to Smith (as I imagine many might have) through Andy Votel’s lovely compilation Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word. Her song “It’s Taking So Long” from 2 gets prime placement on the comp and acts as an easy hook into Smith’s songwriting and style.

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NRP: The Orchids – Unholy Soul

Heading into another exploration of an album unfairly shuttled to the OOP shelf these days. This column seems particularly piercing in the looming shadow of yet another Record Store Day, with no doubt deserving gems from Disturbed and Jeff Beck’s – Truth (a record you can find easily for $5-7 in most used shops) preparing for their assent back to the shelves. Not that it’s all bad. On any other day I’d pop in for a copy of Burt Jansch’s L.A. Turnaround and oddball ‘90s poppers Chainsaw Kittens if I didn’t have them already. So here goes my continual wishlist to the gods of proper reissue, nominating the sophomore LP from Glaswegian janglers The Orchids.

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